Release: BrakeAce's new wireless Brake Sensor

"Last year we released our wired BrakeAce sensor and app, and we have been able to help some of the biggest companies and fastest riders in the world understand their braking and get faster. Since this time, we have focused on creating a completely wireless system for riders at all levels, and we are offering these now on Kickstarter.


The BrakeAce sensor fits between your frame or fork and your brake caliper, and can be installed just like any other brake spacer. The sensor size has been reduced, and only requires you to increase your rotor size by 20mm from the smallest your bike accepts. The sensor communicates by Bluetooth to your phone or tablet, and you can view or analyze your rides on any device or computer.


Once you’re in the BrakeAce app, you can choose to view just your FlowScore as a simple way to compare your braking with friends or between different runs, or you can look at details of individual brake events across the trail. Custom algorithms analyze all of your braking events, and the app shows you the three places on the trail where you have the most room for improvement. These are called your Key Opportunities, and you can track your progress in the app where your rides are stored.


The aim of the BrakeAce system is to make it easy for riders at any level to get faster without getting fitter, and simple scores mean you don’t need a team of data interpreters to do so. The app is made for riders to use on their own, but we want BrakeAce to work with coaches too. We are already looking at ways to integrate video tutorials and remote coaching into your braking recommendations.


The BrakeAce Kickstarter campaign offers early pricing of US$892 for a set of front and rear sensors and the app, delivered in January 2022. After the campaign is finished, BrakeAce will be available through the BrakeAce website."

Story: Cut From a Different Cloth - Louis Hamilton

How about this for the start of a profile….

When Louis Hamilton was 11 years old, he rode sweeper at the ‘06 World Downhill Championships.

Did that get your attention?

The event was in his hometown of Rotorua and his father, Dave, had raced the course the year before, at the Oceania Championships. Dave Hamilton has been at the centre of most things downhill in Rotorua since the beginning of the century, and racing or organising events and courses have occupied many weekends for the Hamilton household over the last two decades. When Dave lined up at those Oceanias, Louis had watched from a vantage point up in the infamous ‘larches’, a particularly nasty part of the course, and the hook was set deep.


A year on, he owned a second-hand Specialised DH bike, and was already able to get down the course - so he got to be the sweep. A baptism of fire, for sure, but after making as many runs as he could over the week of racing, he ended up getting down the track only a minute slower than Sam Hill, who was World Champion that year.

It was only natural that Louis would take racing seriously after being immersed in an event like that.

Competition became his passion for the next decade; battling it out for the summer in New Zealand, and like so many of his colleagues, taking the trip to Europe and North America during our winter.

Racing the World Cup circuit for five years is a huge undertaking. Louis and his brother Connor visited many places they would never have gone to if not for bike racing. And testing yourself year in and year out, against the best in the world, is an opportunity few people get, and an education that escapes most.

Getting started so early had a nice by-product: when the time came to cut back on the racing life a little, Louis was still a young man and, while he cut his teeth in the construction arena, he started building the life he has now.


During a racing season a few years back, the Rotorua downhill organisation Descend Rotorua decided to run a coaching clinic for young riders. Louis and Connor put their hands up to lead it.

On the day, up in front of a group of hopefuls, they realised that while they both knew how to do the things they needed to be fast down a hill, they didn’t have the skills required to translate that knowledge for somebody else to grasp and execute.

That was a challenge for Louis, and he spent the best part of the next six months diligently analysing his methods - figuring out what he was doing so he could impart that knowledge to another rider. The methods he used to do that are proprietary information, and are to remain undisclosed, but be sure they were thorough and accurate.

Some of the things Louis discovered during this period of self-examination surprised him. They did address the challenges he faced back in that spur-of-the-moment clinic. He now knew what he was doing in a far more precise way.

And, he could break it down and deliver it to others.

By that time, he was ready to quit the day-job and launch his own business: Tuned.

In its second year, Tuned will take riders at any level and take them up a notch - or more.

Louis reports that his customers come from all points on the spectrum - complete beginners who want to get started correctly, old hands who have been doing it wrong for years, and pinners that need that extra one percent to elevate their performances.


All of them can benefit from a professional coach who is still able to mix it with the best in a race situation and has put in the study of his own methods to find out exactly what works.

At the same time as he has been developing his business, Louis has been building a family with his partner. Ashley Bond is a great rider, a handy person to have beside you in a business situation and has her finger on the pulse due to her involvement in another bike based operation. Together, they are kept busy with two-year-old Jayla, their daughter.

Recently, I was headed back to the car park at the end of an after-work pedal. I dropped into a clearing and found myself in the middle of a gang of very young riders, gathered around their mentors. Louis and his off-sider on this occasion, Cam Beck, were leading a Rotorua MTB Club youth coaching session.

Ten or so kids were obviously having a really great time, and enthusiastically following their coach’s instructions.

That Louis (and Cam for that matter) would devote an evening to help youngsters improve is clearly admirable but, in Louis’ case, it would have come after a day doing much the same for other customers. Yet, there he was, still out there, and looking to me as if he was really enjoying himself.

It crossed my mind then, that his charges were about the same age as he was when he rode that sweeper lap - a nice way to tie the whole thing into a neat circle.



Words: Gary Sullivan

Images: Cameron Mackenzie

Release: Bosch's new Tour+ Riding Mode

The new Tour+ riding mode from Bosch eBike Systems offers pedelec riders dynamic, continuous support depending on their own effort. This eliminates the need for manual switching between the common drive modes. The new riding mode is designed in particular for sporty rides: With Tour+, eBikers pedal a little harder on flat routes than with the familiar Tour mode. By increasing the rider's own effort, the riding mode saves energy and extends the boundaries for extended excursions. So, Tour+ challenges sporty riders and rewards their slightly greater effort with increased range.


Natural riding sensation due to sensitive motor support

Sensors on the motor measure important riding data more than 1,000 times per second, from which the Tour+ riding mode derives the optimum support for eBikers. The additional power is sensitively dosed to create a natural riding sensation. The degree of support varies dynamically and continuously between the Eco and Turbo drive modes. Tour+ allows eBikers maximum comfort in different riding situations and ensures that they can fully focus on the ride.


“With the Tour+ riding mode, eBikers who like to exert themselves a little more and put more of their own effort into pedalling get a comfort-oriented and range-optimised support level”, explains Claus Fleischer, CEO at Bosch eBike Systems. “There is no need to switch between the familiar modes, riders can devote themselves completely to their eBike experience and enjoy maximum riding pleasure. The system supports a little less on flat and easy routes to increase range. If needed, the support is adjusted situationally based on the pedal pressure to overcome inclines.”


The Tour+ riding mode is available from July 2021 for eBikes with the Bosch Performance Line CX from model year 2020 and derailleur system.

Release: Norco's Three new eBikes

Norco’s VLT E-Mountain Bikes give you more of everything you love about riding, and with our completely redesigned Range, Sight and Fluid VLT models, we’ve got all types of rides covered with the latest Shimano EP8 drive system, choice of frame materials and the freedom to choose your ideal battery capacity. With 30 possible combinations, our VLT E-MTBs let you call the shots and get extra out of every ride.



The Range and Sight VLT’s are available in Carbon and Aluminum and the Fluid VLT is available in Aluminum.



With three proprietary battery options available featuring future-proof 21700 lithium ion cells for maximum energy density, allowing you to custom-select your ideal capacity from 540Wh, 720Wh or massive, industry-leading 900Wh.



Proprietary batteries remove and install in seconds with a single onboard tool for off-bike charging, bringing along a spare, or customselecting the capacity you need for the ride you’ve planned.



Shimano’s most advanced EP8 drive system is spec’d through the entire Gen 3 VLT lineup. It’s 380g lighter than previous models, features 85Nm of torque with increased efficiency, and is rider customizable using the E-Tube Project app.



Every VLT is spec’d for the rigours and added mass of E-mountain biking, including E-certified forks, oversized 4-piston disc brakes, robust 29” wheels with reinforced spokes and freehubs, and grippy tires featuring supportive sidewalls.



Norco’s exclusive Ride Aligned™ Design System matches each VLT E-MTB to the human who rides it. Rider-first geometry and suspension kinematics combine with custom fit and suspension tuning using the Ride Aligned™ Setup Guide to provide unparalleled, personalized performance from day one.




















Find out more here.

Review: Norco Torrent

Hardtails. It’s where we all started. Whether it was a Raleigh 20, a PK Ripper, or a 90s Diamondback, almost universally we all started shredding on a hardtail bike of some description.


However, with the wave of decent full suspension bikes coming to market from the 2000s onwards, most regular mountain bikers have moved to a full suspension bike being their usual trail machine. Despite this, the diehards have remained - outliers; trolling us on their nimble single speeds; others cajoling us on their 26” wheeled fluro-accented 90s machine, with clothing to match; and the odd hardcore XC racer, rolling up on the starting line. Some even manage to hit the trifecta and achieve a higher level of consciousness by occupying the Venn centre of those three circles in one sweet rigid moment. But, if you thought for a moment you didn’t fit any of those categories - you like gears and on-trend fashion, and have no interest in racing - the good news is there is still a place in hardtail nirvana for you. The mountain bike industry is always on the hunt to be able to provide exactly what you are looking for and, as such, a new category has emerged in the last few years that caters to those who might like the aggressive riding characteristics of a slack full suss, but without some of the drawbacks such as extra cost, maintenance and lack of pumping ability.


The new Norco Torrent is one of these bikes - and we’ve had the chance to spend some time reviewing it. The Torrent comes in two frame materials (steel or alloy) and at two price points for each frame. The A2 comes in at $2499, the A1 (tested) at $2999, the S1 at $3299, and the flagship S1 at $4499. The steel frame is also available as a frame only for $1099. Like most bikes in the current climate, stock is extremely limited so you may have to ring around a few shops before you are able to get your hands on one.

First off, yes, it’s true - and now officially, scientifically proven in the NZ Mountain Biker laboratory - red goes faster, and therefore this Torrent is damn near flying. It’s got that same kind of wow factor that made your eyes pop out of your head when you unwrapped your first bike on Christmas day. You can’t help but smile at this bike. And, maybe that’s a bit of a clue as to what this bike is all about; hardtails have a way of harking us back to simpler times, before we began obsessing about what difference five psi might make, tokens in our shocks, and if a nitrogen fill would actually make us faster. No. hardtails force the rider to remove themselves from any such trivialities, name them for what they are (“bull s%*t”) and let their own riding skills stand for themselves…. Or not. It’s an approach to riding that is both freeing, and terrifying.

But enough waxing poetic. What is the new Torrent all about? Well, in the case of aggressive hardtails, it’s all about the numbers, and numbers that have been usually associated with that mad friend you grew up with who was always putting an insanely long travel fork on his hardtail (eventually he snapped his headtube right?) but, damn, he could ride. We all had a friend like that. Well, maybe that mad friend was on to something, because the aggressive hardtail category is now a real thing.


So, let’s start with a few of the features of the Torrent. First up, on the A1 we’ve got the 150mm travel RockShox 35 Gold fork, that’s matched to a 64 degree head angle. By way of example, the Norco Sight, a bike aimed at EWS/Enduro riders, has a head angle of 63.5, so that’s the kind of territory you are in. Our large has a 480mm reach, 76 degree seat tube, and a 425mm rear centre (chainstays). These numbers might not mean a whole lot to you but for a hardtail they are right down the aggressive end of the spectrum.


The Torrent is rolling on Stans Flow D 29” rims, (pre-taped, and with Stan’s valves and sealant in the box we got this rolling tubeless in about 10 minutes) with Schwalbe Hans Dampf rubber. In the drivetrain, the Torrent gets the value oriented new Deore 12 speed 10-51 1x drivetrain. And lastly, keeping things under control, are the Shimano 4-pot 420 brakes. You also get a Trans-X 150mm dropper and a Fizik Taiga saddle all for $2999.

After a relatively simple build, it was out into the streets for a quick rolling check and feel. Instantly, the thing that popped out to me was how similar to my last long travel full suspension bike this Norco felt in terms of overall position in the cockpit. Nice wide 800mm bars, and that visual cue of where the front wheel sits out in front of the stem - it all felt like it was trying to mirror the experience of a long travel full suspension bike in terms of rider body position. A great start!


Out on the trail and the thing that hardtails beg you to do is get up out of the saddle and sprint. Every little climb, every little straight, you know that any effort you put in is rewarded with instant acceleration. Caution, you may start referring to your full-suss bikes with phrases like ‘Mr Blobby’ or other such names, because this thing just wants to go. But any hardtail can say that. The thing with the Torrent, is that it wants to keep going faster when the trail turns down. If you’ve moved from an XC oriented hardtail to a more trail oriented full suss (a pretty normal progression in bike ownership) you might not be aware how much geometry and tyre choice factored into the feeling of confidence that your new long travel bike has given you. That’s what the Torrent has tapped into here. All those things that make modern full suspension bikes great, but in a hardtail package. So, when the trail turns a bit techy, gets a bit of flow, or you see a few jumps, whoops, opportunities to manual etc, you don’t for a moment think “darn I wish I was on my full suss bike so I could enjoy this bit of trail” - you just rad on through it!


Of course, there are limitations to this. Firstly, decent size jumps. No matter how good your technique is, unless you are riding perfectly sculpted dirt jumps, you’ll still be coming back down to earth with a fairly decent impact on a hardtail. There is no way to avoid this, but good technique can make it the best version of what it is - you and a hunk of metal hitting the earth at 30 km/hr. On the plus side, knowing this is imminent, and also knowing you’ve got new abilities to accelerate quickly as you approach the takeoff, you might actually find yourself clearing jumps you didn’t before, and focusing more on your actual jumping technique. For better or worse, this bike won’t hide anything. If you can jump well, you will jump well on the Torrent, if you can’t - and you need your squish to cover your poor technique or habit of always landing on the knuckle - the Torrent won’t save your ass from your poor technique.


But the sweet spot for the Torrent is surprisingly large. On singletrack that isn’t insanely rough, has twists and turns and built in flow, you’ll be surprised just how good it feels. In fact, if you know how to pump, you’ll be reminded of just what you give up by going to a full suss bike in this area. A flowy singletrack trail with lots of rolling undulations and opportunities to make speed through pumping is what this bike was made for, and you’ll be surprised just how fast you might find yourself going as you use the trail to create speed - and that is a real smile inducing way to ride.


We would love to test the steel frame version to see if we could really ‘feel’ the fabled compliance of steel vs alloy, but the reality is the 150mm of suspension and chunky tires are going to absorb most of that, so it might be hard to argue for the steel option based on performance. However, we also know steel bikes are just their own version of sexy - and you’ll get extra street cred to boot - but alongside that, they also have great qualities in terms of fatigue resistance (think of all the big hits you’re giving this thing!) so, in saying that, for an extra $300 the entry level steel model might just be our pick of the bunch.


Despite being impressed overall, there were a few minor things that didn’t quite work out. The internal cable routing rattled, the Fizik seat just didn’t seem to fit our bottom shape, and though thin grips seem all the rage, these ones seemed just a bit too thin and were really just kind of hard. Those are all pretty minor changes though.


The spec on the A1 model we tested was the no frills option, and that helps keep the price under $3k, but it doesn’t mean there is a lot we’d change. In fact, the 12 speed Deore groupset is sublime. You also get Shimano hubs as opposed to some non-branded cost saving option, and the Stans rims held up well to the abuse we put them through. The 420 Shimano 4-pot brakes don't have quite the same refined lever shape or overall shininess of their higher priced siblings, but they don’t lack for power either. When you need to drop the anchors, they do the job just fine. Speaking of the jumps and drops you’ll be wanting to do on this, it’s when you start to trust the geometry and ride with more and more confidence that you also realise the limitations of the 35 Gold fork. It doesn’t have the damping refinements of it’s more expensive brethren such as the Pike or Lyrik, which is a shame as you have to go all the way up to the $4499 top spec model to get a better fork. It’s not that the fork isn’t up to handling itself with big hits, it's just that it's a simpler damping system all together. This means that to get the sensitivity on the small impacts you lose some of the control at managing the big impacts, which is a shame, as getting rowdy is what this bike is built for. Of course, the simple solution is; if you’re focusing on riding rowdy, set it up accordingly and it will take care of you just fine. Switching out a fork isn’t as easy as switching out the grips, but if this bike had something like a Pike on it, we think it would have been a home run.

All in all, the Norco Torrent is an impressively fun bike to ride, with a solid component package that will impress you with just what modern hardtails are really capable of. It’s not for the dirt jumpers nor the hucksters, it’s a trail bike that will go anywhere and everywhere and make you wonder why you’ve been carrying that saggy rear shock around with you for so long.


Distributed by Advanced Traders | RRP: $2,899


Words: Lance Pilbrow

Images: Julia Moore-Pilbrow

Release: 100% Aircraft 2

Aircraft 2 Has Landed. The evolution continues with our ongoing development and advancement of helmet technology. Created with world-class performance in mind, our proprietary Smartshock® Technology works inconjunction with our Patent Pending injection molded chin bar and Multi-Density EPS foam to keepyou safe and extend performance all day long. Elevate your performance with the Aircraft2.




  • Carbon Fiber shell with Patent Pending injection molded chin bar integration

  • 14 point Smartshock® Rotational Protective System

  • Dual Density EPS injection molded with polycarbonate in two size-specific molds

  • Massive airflow with 20 oversized ventilation ports

  • Multi-point adjustable visor designed for maximum vision and goggle stowage

  • Washable, moisture-wicking anti-microbial suede comfort liner

  • D-Ring buckle for a secure fit and maximum security

  • Certified ASTM (F1952-15), CPSC (16 CFR 1203), CE (EN 1078:2012+A1:2012)


Review: Giro Ventana Women's FastLace Shoe

It had been a while since I’d ridden my MTB. Throw in shoulder surgery rehabilitation and COVID, and you have exactly six months. Needless to say, I needed all the flare and sparkle a new pair of shoes could bring me. ‘This ain’t gonna be pretty’, I thought to myself as we ran the gauntlet that is South Auckland traffic, and escaped to Whakarewarewa, Rotorua. Pooch, hubby, bike, not to mention the new kicks – sorted!


With my head full of noise about how my shoulder was going to hold up, I didn’t need foot drama added to the mix – so I was literally comforted with the secure, snug fit when I first got into the shoes. These shoes gave me the support and responsiveness of a more rigid XC shoe, with the comfort you need when having to do a bit of hiker-bike. After a lot of time working from home in my Ugg boots, my feet were happy with a bit of cushion and support provided by the moulded Eva footbed.

We gave the pooch a bit of a run around before we headed out onto the trails, at the great dog park on Long Mile. Being out of my usual rhythm a bit, I had forgotten to bring dog walking shoes, so ended up walking the pooch pre-ride in my new MTB shoes. Now that’s one way to wear them in – no issues at all I must add – impressive!

By the time we headed out onto the trails it was still pretty fresh and my hands were still cold. This is where the Fastlace system came into its own; with minimal effort I was able to pull the laces tight with the pull cord and lock them into place, creating a super snug fit. The laces could then be easily tucked away behind the Velcro strap across my ankle. Like any good Rotorua day, the weather heated up pretty nicely out on the trails. This lace system allowed simple easing off of the tension as my feet got a bit warmer and needed a bit more space.

On a couple of techy parts on the trails, I lost my nerve a bit and needed to dismount and scoot myself and the bike down a tricky downhill section. I was really confident in the Ventana, they gave me great grip as I edged my way down the drop off (‘next time I’ll nail it!’). Like many other readers, I’m sure, I am pretty hard on my shoes – let’s blame it on our genes. Riding the trails that day, I felt confident in the durability of these shoes. It must be something to do with the Giro Sensor Rubber and Synchwire feature on the outer part of the shoe, which says: ‘Show me the roughest terrain – no matter what, I’ve got you’. These shoes tell me they will go the extra mile and more.

This shoe has that effortless flat kick look, can step up to the starting plate for a speed effort or could go all day - and the next - with minimal impact. What’s more, they can transition from the trails into the local Te Arawa Seafood store for some fresh scallops (shout out to Te Arawa Seafoods!) with ease.

Distributed by Worralls | RRP: $229

Reviewed by Philppa Friary

Review: Pirelli Scorpion eMTB Tyres

A lot of new players are entering the mountain bike tyre market of late, bolstering the choices we have in a sector that has been dominated by one or two brands for many years. The names coming in though are not unrecognisable, and have plenty of experience in the rubber game in auto and moto applications, and are applying that knowledge to their mtb offerings. Pirelli, the Italian brand steeped in racing history across all forms, have thrown their hat in the ring and the Scorpion series is their flagship tyre for aggressive trail riding, enduro racing and e-mtb. After some of our testers had put in time on the Scorpions on regular mtbs, I got hold of the E version for some boosted riding.


Emtbs have particular requirements when it comes to tyres, namely large volume, chunky treads and sturdier casings. The Scorpions come with a thick sidewall dubbed Hyper Wall, that isn't really explained beyond that on their website. Whatever they've done works, as I dropped pressures as low as 15PSI, with the sidewalls still feeling solid and without any squirm whatsoever under hard cornering. The front 2.6 EMTB-S tyre has massive knobs spaced well apart, and the side knobs take the bite factor to the next level with their size and toothy profile digging into anything from loose over hardpack to mud and slimey rocks. Just looking down and seeing that big boy leading the way instils some false bravado, and when you get a bit carried away with the speed it'll quickly step in to correct things as you try to wrestle the bike back on line.


Out back there's the EMTB-R, with the same 2.6 Hyper Wall casing and Smart Grip compound (another Italian mystery that uses something called Lignin, look it up) but in a way less aggressive rear tread pattern. Tighter spaced knobs in the centre help with braking and more importantly traction, especially important if you're one to take on steep technical ups as well as downs. Wheelspin even on rutted out goat racks was negligible until the gradient got too much more for the rider than the bike. Smaller side knobs make it easy to drift the rear wheel as far as you like in corners, knowing that when you want some grip it'll be there. To say the Scorpions changed the way my bike rode would only be half the story, as the confidence they give changed the way I rode the bike too.

The set-up was painless and the tyres have held air well between rides. After around 100km of trail riding and a sniff of tar, the knobs are holding up well and look like they'll be around for a long time, as well as a hell of a gripping good time.


Distributed by FE Sports | RRP: $137